Customer Service

At the age of eighteen

I had my first real job.

I no longer watched groups of children

From the sidelines

As they had fun in the summer heat

And cool waters of a public pool.


I now worked for a convenience store,

Located in the center of my hometown,

Selling deli meats, groceries, and basic home needs

Like the toilet paper and tampons

Flying off our shelves.


My mom said it would be great

Since I can walk to work and home

Within five minutes.

I was excited to work there, too,

In a building with air conditioning in the heat

And heating in the cold

And fluorescent lights instead of the blinding sun.


Fast forward a few months.

I am no longer bright eyed and bushy tailed

When I think about work.

I no longer hop along

And do the jobs written out for the day.

I am now resigned to my job

Hustling to make the day go by faster.

I still smile at the customers,

Give them pleasant answers, hellos, and goodbyes.

I live and breathe customer service,

But there must be a line.

For every good, great, or amazing customer,

There are ten mean, rude, or horrible ones.


I am told by a regular

Too constantly let him see

“That pretty smile of mine”.

 What confused me was

 The simple fact that I was already smiling.

I tell him this once and he replies to me

“not that smile, the other one”

And gives me a wink.


His comment grates on my nerves,

And makes me feel uncomfortable

When I smile at strangers.

What type of smile do they see?


There are those customers

Who yell comments towards you

As you clean the store.

They tell me I missed a spot,

Or give me their address

Then tell me to come by after work

As if I do not have a life outside of work.


Others make passing comments

That I am where belong.

Working in a store where all I do

Is clean and make sandwiches.


Even worse are the customers who

Scream, yell, curse with their voice,

Shake their fist, slam their hand on the counter,

Or try to intimidate you by making you

Feel like a tiny rabbit looking into

The eyes of an alpha wolf.


These are the customers who make me angry, sad, and resigned.

The believe that I must bend to their wishes,

Cower in fear,

And beg for their patronage.

I must break the rules I am given by my manager,

And their manager

And their manager

To accommodate their wishes.


My thoughts are screaming at them.

Shouting that I do not have the power

They believe I have over such things

As price hikes or a mistaken order from yesterday

When I have no clue what happened

For I was off that day.


But I am forever reminded:

The customer is always right.

The line I search for between

customer service and

Servicing  the wishes of a customer

Does not exist.


So instead of talking, explaining,

Reasoning with the customer

I bite my tongue,

Push back desperate and angry tears,

Smile pretty,

And put on an Oscar winning performance.


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